Origin: Testimonials of the fine skilled craftsmanship of the artisans of Himachal Pradesh are the temple-carvings found at Chatrahi and Brahmour, dating back to 6th Century AD. The temples have been skillfully carved with intricate engravings on pillars and doors in the basholi style. Himachal Pradesh is punctuated with copious temples carved in timber echoing the beauty of this skill. Further, this skill was used to make idols of gods.
Wood has always been an integral part in Himachal Pradesh. Himachal Pradesh is known for hills and lush greenery. Pine, Cedrusdeodara, and wild black mulberry are found in abundance in Himachal Pradesh. Siimla, Chamba, Kalpa, Kinnaur, Kullu and Tisza are famous for their wood. With carved doors, windows and balcony panels, Wood is certainly the most employed material in the village houses. This is best illustrated by Kinnaur and Kullu.
Present Day: Abundance of wood has made sure woodcarving continues to be a major source of livelihood for the inhabitants of Himachal Pradesh. Gaddi in Chamba is famed for wooden utensils. In Kinnaur, wooden utensils are still widely used. Domestic ware such as water pitchers and eating bowls are made in the village of Koona near Brahmour. Chamba, Chhatrarhi, Rarang, Sapni, Batseri, Shaung, and Bhaba are some of villages whose woodcraft has won laurels.
Artisans create intricate designs and churn out low benches, spinning wheels, smoking pipe, cradles, low settees, boxes, serving spoon, rolling pins, wooden utensils, fruit bowls, beer mugs, wooden jewellery, decorative boxes, carved images etc.
Procedure: Some of the tools required for wood craft are Brushes required for polishing and Painting; Materials, Wood and its subtype comprise of babool wood (acacia arabica), Mango wood, Babul Gond (gum), Further there is a need of Chandras (lac grains in acid), Harmach powder (for an antique finish),Potassium permanganate, Materials for embossing: chalk mitti (ceramic powder),Wood preservative, Varnish, Fevicol, Zinc, Red color etc.
Wood carving products are made using different parts of the tree like root, trunk and the branches. Once the design and the figure is selected, the log of the wood is elected as per the product to be made. Then the process of carving is initiated by using different types of tools like knives, gouges and saw etc. Wood Carving basically includes cutting, shaping, carving, polishing and painting. Woods used in wooden carving are Babool wood, Mango wood, wood from Pine trees, Cedrus and Deodar.
Other materials used in the process of wooden products are Antique Finish, Ceramic powder and varnish. The process starts with creating the basic structure like chair, table, doors, or other wooden items. Specific carving and detailing are time consuming. For basic structure adhesive and primers are used. Then the piece is rubbed by sandpaper and painted with colours. Then the product is coated with varnish and embossing is done later. Lastly, the wooden item is repainted with varnish and final touches are given.
The artistically created designs are world famous and help a lot in economic development of the country. The fast growing demand of this wooden carved handicraft sector has made India economically and culturally rich. Wood carved products have huge demand overseas and are exported in different parts of the world like USA, U.K, Germany, France, Italy, UAE, Canada etc.
Bring Home: You can buy these wooden carved products at a lot of places in Himachal Pradesh like lakkar Bazaar, lower bazaar and the Mall in Shimla, markets of Chamba, Kinnaur, Tisa, Kullu, Kalpaetc and different State Emporiums and Crafts centre.